Insider Reunion Planning Advice from Universal Orlando
Seamlessly organize your next Florida reunion with tips from Universal’s Manager of Event Sales
Once you’ve decided on a theme park reunion, the real work begins. You don’t have to go it alone, though–most theme parks have event managers on staff who are dedicated to helping groups of all sizes put together perfectly planned events. They truly make planning part of the fun!
We spoke with Pat Tracey, Manager of Event Sales at Universal Orlando Resort, to learn everything reunion planners (or anyone planning a group event) need to know while planning their event and developing a timeline. Here’s what he had to say–
Q: Why is it important to have an event manager to help plan your group’s event?
A: With decades of experience between our Sales and Event Management teams, our goal at Universal Orlando Resort is to make planning an event, activity or a simple ticket purchase a stress-free experience. Once a group (of any size) decides on a venue and date at Universal Orlando, our Event Management team collaborates with the group organizers to fine-tune every single detail.
Q: What exactly does the event manager do?
A: That event manager focuses on addressing everything from dietary restrictions with Food & Beverage to bus pick-up and drop-off locations. From pre-planning and contracting to onsite management to the last guest leaving the venue, the event planner has a Universal Orlando point of contact assigned to them to ensure a successful program for the group.
Q: What is the best time of year for groups to visit Universal Orlando?
A: Universal Orlando Resort is a family destination and tends to be busier during school breaks and major holidays, but our teams work with groups throughout the year. From an availability perspective, some planners will avoid those busier times if it makes sense for their group or event.
Q: What are some of the special events that groups might like to plan their event around?
A: From the festivities of Universal’s Mardi Gras to our world-renowned Halloween Horror Nights to the joy of the Holidays at Universal Orlando and more, organizing a meeting or event around a Universal Orlando-specific offering allows the attendees an opportunity to experience something they cannot get anywhere else.
Q: What are a few things groups can do to make their gathering special while visiting Universal Orlando?
A: One of the main things that makes Universal Orlando Resort unique as a destination for a group is offering the option to leverage the amazing theme parks, theme park venues and areas, restaurants, and even hotels in a private setting. This could be an entire theme park land or a private room in a restaurant depending on the planner or group’s preference. We have options that really fit mostly any budget and need for the group.
Q: Do you have any itinerary planning tips that will give groups independent time to enjoy the parks, but also time together with their group?
A: One of the nice things about groups being here at Universal Orlando Resort is they are at a complete vacation destination. There is so much to do here that if an attendee is part of a larger group function, there will be plenty for them to explore on their own. This would be up to the individual preferences of the attendee, but they can take advantage of a wide variety of activities on their own including prorated afternoon theme park tickets, shopping at Universal CityWalk or the theme parks, a movie theater in CityWalk, mini golf in CityWalk and all of our food and beverage options.
Q: Can you outline a general planning timeline for group events?
A: This would depend more on the group or planner preference. At any given time, our Events and Sales teams are working with groups that could be as close to two weeks away from their event or as far as two years away from their event. It’s entirely a function of needs for that organizer, and we are equipped to handle whatever that planner may need. Large groups tend to plan further out, as some of their options could be limited the closer they are to their event time. Smaller groups tend to pop up quicker and plan closer to the event. We will always try to accommodate the group needs in any timeframe.
When should reunion planners first contact you? As soon as the group planner understands their basic needs and has a general idea of what they are looking for or looking to do.
When should groups reserve a room block? This is solely dependent on the group and what their needs will be. We will always do our best to accommodate groups of all sizes. Usually, the earlier the better if it’s a possibility for that group and planner.
When are deposits and full payment amounts due? For events at Universal Orlando Resort, timing and amounts due vary based on the period between the event date and signing date. We would generally ask for an initial deposit, a second deposit (if it’s a larger program) and final deposit around three days out if credit has not been established yet.
When do group discount tickets need to be purchased? In most cases, a week-plus notice is preferred, if possible.
How long before event should a group have final RSVP numbers? This would depend on the group, the group size and the timeframe of the event. Usually our event catering guarantees are due around three business days from that specific event.